vrijdag 1 juli 2011

MSU2011: Videos on misconceptions

Before the final day of the MAET on-site program ends every group presents a video that they have made. All videos are about "understanding understanding", based on what we discussed previously in the first week: many of our students have well-developed naive conceptions and knowledge structures, which sometime are, or may become misconceptions. In the video project each group had to select a certain topic and document student understandings of these topics (for instance what causes weather events such as thunder, lightening, or wind? or what causes shadows?).

The students have to do more than "just" make a video. They have to look up prior research in this area and the misconceptions of the topic, develop research questions and an interview protocol, select a group of individuals to interview and record, edit the videos and creatively incorporate them into one group video that will show a variety of people’s understanding of your topic. The video should not just give an overview of the different interviews, but has to demonstrate patterns and differences in what you see, connect it to the ideas of cognition and learning that have been discussing in class. Next to the video the students have to create a web page for this research project, including relevant research that was found, a statement of the group’s research questions, the video, and a summary of what was found.

The first video that we see is about the misconception about spot reduction when exercising: if you exercise a specific section of your body, the fat around this area will disappear. Most people that were interviewed believe that certain exercises reduce fat in certain areas and that if you exercise your fat will become muscle.. But, as the group who made this video concludes, spot reduction is in fact a myth. When you exercise fat is burned, however you can't decide where it is taken from and when you exercise fat is burned to create energy that is used by the body.

The second video is about lightening and this group found a wide range of misconceptions about lightning.  Many people they interviewed had a general idea, but most of them were unable to clearly state how lightning is formed or where it comes from. An interesting conclusion from this group was that "while many of the people were incorrect, most of them thought the information they were sharing was correct. It is this misinformation that causes misconceptions."

The third group presented a video on the myth of a raindrop. They investigated how people perceive the shape of a raindrop, and what forces act upon a drop of rain to have it take that shape. When asked to explain why drops of rain took that specific shape (that you probably have in your mind too) when falling through the sky, many of the answers involved the force of gravity and how the water was moving through the air. Want to know how a raindrop really looks like? Take a look at one of the links that this group provided!

The fourth video was about geographical knowledge and they asked people questions about what they remembered about learning geography and using maps in school, and if they could draw the outlines of the United States, China, Russia and Iraq, and if they could locate East Lansing, Hong Kong, Moscow and Baghdad on a map. The group explained that most of the participants had a negative association with learning geography because their teachers stressed a “short-term recall” approach of memorizing and recalling factual knowledge on tests and on the map assessment, many demonstrated a limited geographic understanding. The group adviced that geography should be taught in a more innovative, investigative, interactive, international and interconnected way, because they believe that this will lead to better geographic knowledge.

The fifth group made a video about Blood Alcohol Content and how this is measured. They asked people what they know about blood alcohol content and how it is measured, if there are actions a person could take to lower their potential blood alcohol content, and how your body removes alcohol from your system. One of the known myths is of course that drinking coffee or water or eating something will help sober up (but only time will sober you up, coffee might wake you up, but it sure won't do anything about your blood alcohol levels). And many of the persons interviewed mentioned this as a "cure"..

The videos did not only help in identifying common misconceptions, but making these videos helps in discovering and thinking about your own misconceptions. This activity is therefore very useful to do with your own students!

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